This post is about my experience with a recent miscarriage. I debated writing about my experience, but ultimately I decided to share it for two reasons:
As part of my healing process
To give hope to anyone going through a similar situation.
Whether it's your first baby, second, or fifth, don't give up on your dream. This too shall pass.
It was early Sunday morning, December 6, about 7:30 AM when I received a positive pregnancy test. I remember the time because I had looked at my phone just before getting out of bed to take my test. After three months or so of trying for our hypothetical third baby I was anxiously awaiting a positive result. In the week leading up to this day, I took six tests. That's right...six. I'm not sure why I took six tests. I've gone through two pregnancies, I know how this thing works. But in my defense, I was anxious. I was excited. I was ready.
For those who know me personally, you may be surprised to discover I want one more child. Although I haven't kept my hypothetical third a secret, I only talked about it with a select few. I have two beautiful, healthy children. One of each. I remember when Emory was born, so many people made comments to Sean and I that we had the perfect little family. A king's family. I felt the same exact way. In fact, as soon as Emory began outgrowing her baby gear I began to clean house. Clothes, toys, furniture, you name it...I got rid of it (I'm what one would call the opposite of a hoarder...a purger).
About a year ago something changed. I wouldn't exactly call it baby fever. More like the beginning stages of thinking about our hypothetical third. Was it realistic? Could we afford it? Would another child take away attention from our two children.
These questions are just a few that I pondered early on. From there, I began to have conversations with anyone I came across who happened to have three children. Mostly these conversations took place in the workplace. I became intrigued with hearing how other working moms of three children made it work. It wasn't until later on that I realized I was looking for someone to give me the answer to the question, "Can I have three children?" What I didn't realize at that point in time was that it was I that held the answer to that question. No matter how much research I did, no one was going to give me the answer I so desired. About three months ago, I finally came to the conclusion that deep down I already knew my hypothetical third was going to become a reality.
Fast forward to December 6, the day I received my positive. This test confirmed what my body already knew to be true. About a week leading up to taking this test, I was feeling symptoms that were all too familiar. I was overjoyed. Similar to my other two pregnancies, I had been thinking about this baby for around one year. On most days, I would daydream about what this third baby would be like. Would I have another boy? Another girl? Would they look more like Sean, myself or a combination of both? What would their eye color be? Hair color? I was in love with a child I hadn't even met yet. A few days passed by. I had begun to experience nausea in the mornings and I was extremely tired.
Four days later on the morning of December 10, I awoke feeling like I had a burst of energy. I thought it was odd but I thought it was due to getting more sleep than normal that night. Later on that morning I had a coffee date on campus with a coworker. I shared my news with her as she had been hearing about my hypothetical third on and off during our coffee dates over the last year. I was excited to share my news with her. Afterwards, I headed back to my building and made a pit stop in the ladies room before going to my second meeting that morning. I was extremely caught of guard when I discovered a small amount of blood. I tried not to think too much into it. Although I had never experienced this with my other two pregnancies, I know that every pregnancy is different. Some women experience bleeding similar to a period their entire first trimester. I went to my meeting and tried not to overreact. About two hours later, I made another trip to the bathroom. The bleeding was still there and was more noticeable. Trying not to overreact was no longer an option.
I booked a conference room and called my OBGYN. As calmly as I could, I explained to the nurse that I was 6 weeks pregnant and something was wrong. I told her this was my third pregnancy and I hadn't experienced bleeding before. The nurse assured me that every pregnancy is different. She advised that I get to the lab as soon as I could to have a panel run. The results of this test would either confirm that this was a miscarriage or provide me with relief that the baby was okay. I left work in a puddle of tears. My commute is about an hour and a half. During that time I tried not to over think things, which was in fact impossible. I cried on and off. I was a hormonal mess. Once I got to the lab, they took me right away. They took one vile of blood and sent me on my way. I was in and out in less than ten minutes.
I had informed Sean of what was happening and he headed home. When he walked in I was on the couch. I had the TV on but I wasn't watching it. He sat beside me and put his arm around me. I immediately starting crying. I was avoiding the bathroom like the plague. Each time I made a trip to the bathroom I prayed that the bleeding would be gone...but it never went away. I noticed my bleeding was becoming much heavier. I called the nurse to see if I needed to change anything I was doing. The nurse said that this could go one of two ways: I could be experiencing some bleeding associated with a type of hemorrhage (I can't recall what she referred to it as) or I could be miscarrying. If it was the latter, she told me to expect extremely heavy bleeding. More than I would experience with a typical period. I would also experience cramping and discomfort. She advised me to call back if I was soaking through a pad within one hour. I began to cry. I clung to what little hope she had given me until the results that would come the next morning. Sean asked what I wanted to do. I didn't want to overdo it but at the same time I couldn't sit idle. We decided to pick up the kids from daycare together and make a trip to McDonald's. We were in no condition to make dinner and knew that the kids would love running around the play place. We ordered our food, sat down to eat and I watched my children play. They climbed up the netting and peered down at me from the see-through bubbles with smiles on their faces. Their laughter echoed through the tunnels. As I watched my babies play, I was losing my baby. It was a bittersweet feeling. One that I'll never forget.
When we returned home things began to get worse. I curled up on the couch and drifted in and out of sleep. I don't typically have what one would refer to as a bad period. In fact, I never experience cramping. What I experienced that night was severe cramping. It radiated up and down by lower back and wrapped around my abdomen. My breasts were throbbing. Each time I went to the bathroom my fears were confirmed. I wanted nothing more than for this to be a bad dream, but it wasn't a dream. It was real. It was real and I wanted it to be over. I went upstairs, got myself into bed and drifted off to sleep.
The next morning the dreaded phone call came. I knew what the results were going to be before I even heard them. Before she gave me the results, the nurse asked me, "How are you feeling?" My response was, "I just am." There was no other way to explain it because there wasn't a word to describe how I was feeling. The nurse went on to tell me that my beta was at a 4 which is extremely low and meant I had lost the baby. She explained that this was most likely what they refer to as a chemical pregnancy. I was devastated. I hadn't told anyone in my family that I was pregnant. I had ordered announcement gifts for the grandparents and planned on sharing the news via these gifts on Christmas. I texted a few friends who knew of my pregnancy and shared my update with them. My friend Jen immediately asked if she could call me. Over the next thirty minutes or so, the advice and guidance that Jen shared with me were exactly what I needed to hear. Unfortunately, Jen had been in my shoes more than once. She told me that this experience would leave me forever changed. True. That I would never be the same, and that over time the pain would get better but would never fully go away. Also true. Jen read a passage to me, a passage that was shared with her during a time when she needed it and as she read it, I cried. As she read each word I came to the realization that she knew exactly what I was feeling. I truly believe that even if I hadn't spoken one word on that phone call, she would know every unspoken word by heart. Jen, I can't thank you enough for being there for me that day, and in the days and weeks that followed. I attribute much of my strength to you. I am truly blessed to have a friend like you (You can find the passage Jen shared with me at the bottom of this post // read more about Jen's journey with infertility here).
Throughout the rest of the day I was a mess. I'm not bipolar but the only way I can describe how I was feeling is to say I was bipolar. One minute I'd be fine, the next I'd burst out in tears. It was an extremely emotional day to say the least. I kept searching for an answer as to why this had happened. I had two healthy pregnancies. What was different about this one? For the remainder of the weekend, Sean took care of everything and anything. He was extremely thoughtful and did whatever he could to make what I was going through even the slightest bit easier. Sean, I don't know how I would have gotten through those few days without you by my side. Thank you for being there for me. I love you.
Physically I was feeling better so I decided I wanted to keep our schedules normal. Saturday mornings typically involve a 6:45 AM barre3 class for me followed by Mason's swimming lesson and Emory's gymnastics class. I skipped barre as physically I wasn't doing well, but I was up to taking Emory to gymnastics. Emory was with me as I was getting ready in my bathroom and saw me grab a pad. Upon seeing this she said, "Mommy has a boo-boo?" I explained to her that I was okay. Her next question stopped me in my tracks. "Mommy has a baby in her belly?" I was stumped. Sean and I hadn't told the kids we we're going to have a baby, as we wanted to share our news with our families on Christmas and didn't want to risk one of the kids spoiling the surprise. I knelt down, put my brave face on, held back my tears and sweetly replied, "Mommy had a baby in her belly, but now the baby is in heaven with God and it's an angel baby." At two and a half she had somehow connected the dots. I always give my daughter credit for being wise beyond her years; she truly is an old soul. Following gymnastics, we made a quick stop at the lab for follow up blood work. As I was getting Emory out of her car seat I explained to her that mommy had to go to the doctor. She looked at me and asked, "Mommy has a boo-boo in her belly?" My sweet girl. Needless to say Emory and I bonded that day.
Healing. What's next is healing. It's been twenty days since I lost my baby and in those twenty days I've definitely done a lot of healing. For the most part, the tears have ended. Sometimes something will catch me off guard when I least expect it and I'll remember and begin tearing up, but the pain has gotten much better. I've been writing this post on and off for a week now and I must confess it has helped me tremendously. At first I wasn't certain if I was going to share it or keep it as a draft for myself. Ultimately I chose to share it because I choose not to suffer in silence. I used to hold everything in and when I say everything, I mean everything. Through some intense self-development over the past year or so, I've learned that talking about things is the cure-all. With this experience, I approached things differently. From day one I talked openly about it and for me that has made all the difference. Each time I talked about it, the pain lessened. If you're reading this and you were one of those people I leaned on, thank you. Your support continues to mean so much to me.
I have a tendency to plan every aspect of my life. Both Mason and Emory were planned, down to the time of year I wanted to have them. The same goes for the hypothetical third. I wanted one more summer baby and unless I wait an entire year before trying again, I won't have that summer baby. I know it sounds so silly, but if you're Type A like me, you get it. About a week after my miscarriage, I had an epiphany. I could let this experience consume me, choose not to try again and essentially strike out. Or I could pull from the strength that this hypothetical third baby has given me and try again. Instead of dwelling on what could have been, I'm looking to this experience to see what I can learn about myself. Maybe I need to scale back on the planning part and just let life do its thing, because life is what happens when we're busy making other plans.
"Grief is the feeling of carrying around heavy rocks. They weigh you down, they are cumbersome and difficult to carry. You will carry them around for the rest of your life and some days it will feel like you can't bear to carry it one more minute, but you will. Then one day, when you are not looking, the rocks will settle in your pocket and you may forget they are there. You can reach in and feel them. They will always be a part of you. But you will no longer feel the tremendous weight that you feel today. You will no longer have to carry them, your pocket will find a place for them."